So Abram went..."
"And he (the Lord) brought Abram outside and said, 'Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.' Then he said to him, 'So shall your offspring be.
And he (Abram) believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness."
"After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, 'Abraham!' And he said, 'Here I am.' He said, 'Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.'
"So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac."
I have been reading in the book of Genesis lately about the most ancient Hebrew patriarch Abraham. One of the most astonishing occurrences across the pages of mid Genesis is Abraham's quick obedience to whatever the Lord commands. When God speaks, Abraham listens. When God speaks, Abraham believes. When God speaks, Abraham immediately obeys.
How many of us can say we have the same track record as Abraham?
When God speaks, Audrey tries to speak louder. When God speaks, Audrey questions. When God speaks, Audrey only sometimes tentatively obeys.
The first order of business in changing a stubborn heart into an obedient one must be to ask the Lord to do it. Even with the most disciplined striving we could no more transform our hard heart to a soft one than we could change the sun into the moon. God is the only one who can change a human heart.
In order to obey God's voice we must be able to recognize when he speaks. Sheep will only obey the familiar voice of their shepherd. We must make ourselves familiar with God's voice. The next big question is, "How?"
God primarily speaks through his Word. The good news is, we already have access to his words. The Bible isn't an ancient Near Eastern conglomeration of dusty and outdated thoughts. It's the most potent glimpse of Earth's Creator this side of eternity. Even more, it's an invitation to understanding, wisdom, and eternal life with him. Through regular reading we become familiar with what God says, the tone with which he says it, how he interacts with man, and what happens when he speaks.
To obey means to understand authority. Even if we become familiar enough with God's voice to hear it, if we do not believe he is better and wiser and kinder than we, we will never obey him. If we are god of our lives, then we will submit to our own whims, desires, and ambitions--whatever they may be. We must rightly understand who we are in light of who God is. He knows best; we do not. He is God; we are not. To correctly understand him results in obedience to him. It would not make sense to obey our transient culture or our own agendas when a God vastly older who holds eternal perspective and deep care for our future exists and is speaking.
We must ask God to change our stubborn hearts into obedient ones.
We must familiarize ourselves with God's voice in the Scriptures.
Through study of the Bible we will see that God is better, kinder, wiser than we and is deserving of our exclusive obedience. As we see these truths over and over again, our hearts will begin to believe and we will gladly bow in submission to him as God. We will see obedience to him as the true reality of deep safety and long lasting joy.
Then we will have hearts like Abraham--hearts that take great joy in small and large obedience to the One who is better than life itself!
"But Samuel replied, 'What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. '" 1 Samuel 15:22